Ask most people what comes to mind when they think of Kenya, and the answer is usually safaris and wildlife. However, Kenya also has 300 miles of idyllic white sand beaches running along the tranquil waters of the glistening Indian Ocean.
It’s the perfect place to end your safari holiday. As well as relaxing in paradise there are plenty of activities to keep you busy, since Kenya’s coast is a hub of culture, history and adventure as well as being the place to leave your footprints in the sand. The coral reefs that skirt the coastline have some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world, and marine life such as dolphins, whales and sea turtles can all be found here as well as a whole host of other species. Kenya really is the ideal place for year-round safari and beach holidays, thanks to its consistent climate, easily accessible coastal locations and a fantastic selection of beach lodges, resorts and villas.
Where are the Best Beaches in Kenya?
Whatever floats your boat when it comes to beaches, Kenya’s coastline has something to offer everyone. Whether you’re on a tailor-made family safari and beach holiday or a luxury honeymoon, Kenya’s shores are an idyllic location. You just need to know which beach to choose!
Bigger towns like Mombasa and Malindi offer a lively, fun atmosphere, with all-inclusive beach resorts and lots of things to do. Small, less developed areas like Diani and Watamu are quieter with a more rustic vibe and are the place to go if you want to escape from the crowds.
For those with a passion for the underwater world, Kenya’s coast has some of the best diving in Africa. Activities are easy to arrange and there is plenty to see, and the Watamu Marine National Park is one of the best places to scuba dive in Kenya with 20 superb sites.
Mombasa is Kenya’s largest coastal city. It’s a place where different cultures converge to create a unique and charming feel, and the city’s suburban beaches are some of Kenya’s most popular beach destinations. Travel within the city is done by taxi, rickshaw or on foot, and there’s a buzzing nightlife scene thanks to some great restaurants and bars.
There are a number of things to do in Mombasa, and the city is a hive of activity with several fascinating historical and cultural sites. Spending a few hours exploring the old town gives a great insight into a bygone era, and it’s particularly worth visiting the historic Portuguese fort known as Fort Jesus, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Within the fort there is a butterfly house that is home to a number of exotic species. Just two hours from the centre of Mombasa is Shimba Hills National Reserve, a fun safari experience for those interested in seeing iconic species such as elephant, giraffe, buffalo and zebra.
Nearby areas such as Nyali, Kenyatta, Bamburi and Shanzu are Mombasa’s immediate beach spots. Due to its proximity to the city, Mombasa’s beaches can become crowded, but with some great all-inclusive beach holiday packages and a decent selection of hotels and resorts catering to all types of traveller, this is a great place to end a safari and beach holiday in Kenya.
Take a look at our recommended Kenyan beach properties and contact our team today to discuss your Kenya safari and beach holiday.
Diani Beach Holidays
Diani Beach is located south of Mombasa and has previously been voted one of the best beaches in the world. ‘No shoes and no news’ is the local philosophy, where visitors are encouraged to unwind and chill out. The palm-fringed beaches, bleached white sand and warm, shallow tropical waters are the perfect setting for any Kenya beach holiday. Diani is the ideal place to finish your safari and beach vacation, as well as being an idyllic spot for a relaxing Indian Ocean getaway.
Tropical coral reefs are located offshore, and this part of Kenya is regarded among the best places for diving and snorkelling in Africa. Water is clear and visibility is fantastic meaning that an array of rare and colourful marine-life species can be seen. Dolphins, turtles and whales can be found while diving or snorkelling for much of the year, and between February and March you’re in with a chance of spotting a whale shark as they migrate along the coast.
Inland, the beaches are surrounded by thick forest, where nature walks can be enjoyed through swathes of luscious vegetation. There is also a variety of other activities on offer such as horse riding on the beach, kite-surfing, trips on a traditional dhow boat, deep sea fishing, yoga and much more. Whether you are on a luxury safari and beach honeymoon or a tailor-made family holiday to Kenya, everyone will find things to do at Diani Beach.
Diani has a variety of beach lodges and hotels to choose from. While some may prefer a rustic and relaxed beach lodge, others will feel more comfortable in a luxury beach villa. Picking the right spot for you is vital in ensuring your Kenya beach holiday is absolutely perfect, so chat with our experts today about staying at Diani beach.
Watamu Beach Holidays
Located 105 kms north of Mombasa on a small headland, Watamu is a small seaside village that is internationally renowned for its beaches and relaxed vibe. It has previously been voted one of the top ten beaches in the world, and it’s easy to see why. Along this section of coastline are strings of idyllic beaches and bays that are protected by the Watamu Marine National Park. The warm, clear waters of the Indian Ocean are ideal for tropical marine life which resides here in abundance.
The Watamu Marine National Park is a pristine and protected habitat for several different species including dolphins, rays and even whale sharks. The Watamu beaches are also important nesting sites for green hawksbill and olive ridley turtles. There are 20 wonderful dive sites within the Watamu Marine National Park and trips can be arranged for divers of all abilities. Diving conditions are best between November and March when winds and currents are weak, air and water temperatures are good, and migratory whale sharks are in the area. Other things to do in Watamu include horse riding, dhow boat rides, kite surfing and more. The For Rangers charityworks closely with the Local Ocean Conservation charity and a day visit to their Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Centre to learn more about their work is something we highly recommend!
For a change of scenery, excursions to local historical sites and nature areas can be easily arranged. Dating back to the 11th century, the Swahili-Arab coastal settlement of Gedi is an interesting archaeological site and was once an important trading site along Africa’s coast. The remains of its mosque, palace and other buildings are said to be protected by ancient spirits who curse anyone that harms the ruins.
Just outside Watamu, the Arabuko Sokoke Forest Reserve is the largest remaining coastal forest in East Africa, with a number of different endemic plant, animal and bird species. The forest is best explored on nature walks during which you stand the chance of encountering species seldom seen by other travellers. Inland from the forest is Mida Creek, a tidal estuary fringed with mangroves and palms that is a haven for a broad range of wildlife including migratory birds, fish and turtles. We recommend exploring the creek by kayak during the day or stepping on board a traditional dhow for a romantic sunset trip with a cold drink or two in the evening.
There is a fantastic selection of Watamu accommodation available, including boutique beach hotels, family friendly resorts and several lodges. Chat to us today to discuss your Watamu beach holiday.
Malindi Beach Holidays
Malindi is perfectly situated at the spot where the Galana River meets the Indian Ocean. It is 120 kms north of Mombasa, just a little further up the coast from Watamu. Malindi has been a popular destination for international travellers since 1498 when the fleet of Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama arrived in its pristine waters. The town is one of the largest on the Kenyan coast with several interesting historical sites, a marine park and a choice of fantastic beaches.
This is a place where local and international cultures combine to create an exciting buzz. Walking through the town’s alleys your senses are pulled in every direction by the spicy aromas of cooking, the sweet taste of fresh local fruit and the sights of superb local crafts.
There is no shortage of things to do in Malindi from adventure activities like kite surfing, horse riding and diving, to visits to nature parks, historical sites and trips in a traditional dhow. An excursion to the sandstone depression known as Marafara-Hells Kitchen is a unique and rewarding excursion. The jagged multicoloured sandstone formations have been carved over millennia by wind, rain and floods and are shrouded in myth and legend. Locally the area is known as Nyari – ‘the place that broke itself’.
Lamu is a 14th century Swahili settlement located on a tropical archipelago 350 kms north of Mombasa. This series of islands is characterised by warm clear waters, beautiful beaches and an historic old town. Lamu is one of the best-preserved Swahili settlements in Africa with clear influences from the different cultures that have visited for trade over the years.
There are no cars on Lamu and travel is done by donkey and cart or by traditional dhow boats. The town should be explored on foot, and walking the narrow alleyways is the best way to immerse yourself in the friendly atmosphere and fascinating history. Lamu is peaceful and its residents are welcoming, making it easy to slip into the laid-back pace of life here.
Popular activities around Lamu include exploring the town, visiting local markets, checking out archaeological ruins and taking a dhow cruise to nearby idyllic islands. You won’t find large crowds on Lamu outside of the main town, and beaches are often quiet making this the ideal spot for those looking for a secluded seaside escape in Kenya. Accommodation in Lamu is usually rustic beach style properties with traditional Swahili architecture.
To discuss your Lamu beach holiday, contact our team today.